Communist Party of Great Britain
For Soviet Britain
The Programme of the Communist Party adopted at the XIII Congress
I. The Class Struggle in Britain Today
Britain to-day is in the hands of millionaires-owners of the biggest trusts, the biggest banks, the biggest steamship companies; in short, owners or controllers of the big monopolies. Nearly everything we use or need pays toll to them: soap and milk, cigarettes and cinemas, newspapers and wireless are in their grasp, as well as mining, chemicals, transport, etc. These millionaires, these monopoly capitalists, not only own or control the chief means whereby we work and live, but, in fact, control the whole governing machine. They pull the strings. And they use their power to make themselves richer and richer — at our expense. They hire workers to make profit out of their labour; their capitalist production is for profit, not for use: and to get more profit they slash wages, carry through speed-up and worsen conditions. This mad race for profit ends in a crisis; and then they try to get out of the crisis — at our expense.
Look at the result!
Four of the most important industrial districts of the country are now callously labelled “derelict areas” — South Wales, the North-East Coast, West of Scotland, and Lancashire, the very places in which British capitalism established its wealth and power, now “derelict,” now “depressed areas.” Over 2,000,000 unemployed! And the Prime Minister openly states that even if trade revives, “great bodies of men and women” would be to all intents and purposes “superfluous scrap.”
Poverty, insecurity and malnutrition making their inroads in the homes of millions of workers: low wages, increased speeding-up, to the point of physical exhaustion, is the lot of the workers in the factories, mines and shipyards: increases in the number of accidents, sickness and a high death-rate amongst working-class mothers and babies. This is Britain to-day for working men, women and their families.
Nor is it the British industrial workers alone who are suffering. Many millions of small shopkeepers, artisans, working farmers, technical, clerical, administrative and cultural workers are feeling in their working conditions, in unemployment, in falling incomes, and, above all, in growing insecurity, the effects of the decline of British capitalism. Their “independent” lives are more and more confined and crushed within the bounds set for them by the dominating trusts and combines. They are becoming for the great capitalist employers and financiers “superfluous scrap.”
For British capitalism, under the domination of the big monopoly capitalists, is decaying. The masses of the people of Britain are being ruined by the big trusts and their millionaires. Unless we put an end to capitalism, the lot of the masses will become worse and worse.
The Capitalists Are Driving to War
But it is not only poverty and insecurity and unemployment which threatens the majority of the British people. For the great capitalist employers, the great financiers and bankers have one last use for us all, even after it has become unprofitable for them to employ us; and that is to recruit us for war. Just as in time of war the scrap metal of industry is fed back in the blast furnaces to make shells and guns, so now the “scrap men” — which is all that “great bodies of men” have become for the capitalists — are to be fed back into the gigantic machine of capitalist war.
The cause of capitalist war is the attempt of each national capitalist group — British, French, German, American, Japanese, etc. — to beat its competitors on the world market and to win bigger and bigger profits for its own millionaires. For monopoly capitalism has now reached the stage when war is inevitable — unless stopped by the workers. This is the stage of monopoly capitalism or imperialism. Imperialism means that the big trusts and big banks are dominating at home, are dominating (through their investments) abroad, and that the colonial countries have been divided up amongst the Imperialist Powers. Therefore the Imperialist Powers are rivals of one another in the world market.
With the crisis this rivalry becomes fiercer and fiercer. This competitive struggle is carried out, firstly by tariffs, quotas, and other economic measures, and then finally by war. We have seen the fight by tariffs, quotas, etc., and we are now reaching the stage of war. Daily and hourly the capitalists are preparing for this bloody solution of the economic crisis. The most fearsome, ghastly and deadly armaments are being piled up. Science and inventive genius are prostituted to discover and perfect the means of death and destruction of millions, in order to win new markets, territory, and spheres of profitable capitalist investment, to bring rent, interest and profit for a handful of employers, bankers and landlords.
The Capitalists Are Driving to Fascism
Fascism is the weapon of the millionaires against the working class. Fascism is the dictatorship of the most ruthless, reactionary and jingo section of monopoly capitalism. The paymasters of Hitler and Goering are the biggest millionaire financiers and capitalists of Germany. The whole aim and object of the setting up of Fascist Governments, as can be proved in detail from the experience of Fascist Italy, Fascist Germany, and Fascist Austria, has been to reduce wages, lengthen hours of work, abolish social services, curtail education and cut unemployment pay. The object of the violence and barbarity used by the Fascists in crushing the workers’ trade unions, political parties and co-operatives is to prevent any resistance to this policy.
See what has happened to workers in other countries. The workers of Germany were beaten and tortured; the workers of Austria were mowed down by artillery fire; bombing aeroplanes and poison gas have been used against the workers of Spain. The lesson for us is plain. The capitalist class will stick at nothing. And Fascism is only a development of the force already used by the capitalist class in every country — through police, courts, and armed forces when necessary — to prevent the workers from securing their immediate demands and building up their power to overthrow capitalism and establish Socialism.
To prevent the workers’ resistance the Fascists use not only force but also fraud and deception. They play upon the prejudices which the millionaire press instils into the workers’ minds. In each country they blame the “alien sweaters” — to prevent the workers laying the blame on their own exploiters. They stir up jingo feeling and nationalist hatred amongst the masses to take the place of class feeling against the millionaires at home.
In Britain the capitalist preparations for a Fascist form of Government are not only Mosley’s blackshirt gangs, financed and organised by rich capitalist groups. The “National Government” is also preparing the ground, with its militarising of the police, putting in middle-class officers and mobilising middle-class “specials”; it is swelling the numbers of its secret police, to spy upon working-class organisations; it is organising concentration camps for the unemployed, suppressing still further the workers’ right of free speech, and abolishing many other existing rights through the Sedition Act, and taking additional measures to concentrate control in the hands of central officials instead of elected local bodies. This is exactly how the Governments in Germany and Austria prepared the way for open Fascism.
British workers are not blind to the fact that the British capitalist class is just as ruthless and savage as any other capitalist class — the methods adopted to crush the General Strike, the Black and Tans in Ireland, the shooting down of hundreds of defenceless workers at Amritsar, in India, the holding down by armed violence of millions of colonial peoples have proved this.
Actually, the huge armed forces, and the colossal imperialist apparatus of the British capitalists is only made possible by the oppression and robbery of the colonial peoples. It is the plunder of India and other colonies that enables the ruling class to wage the class struggle in this country. And this is also the reason why the struggle of the British workers must be bound up with the struggle of the colonial masses. It is a common fight against a common enemy.
Face The Facts
The British workers must face with full and serious determination the situation as it is; face the fact that all capitalism has to offer them to-day is poverty, malnutrition, low wages, speeding-up and unemployment, Fascism, war and slavery; and that neither they nor their families have any hope or future under capitalism.
There is no need for a single worker to be overworked or in dread of losing his job; no reason why an unemployed worker should lack the necessaries of life, or why he should not be brought back into employment. All over the world millions of workers are year by year coming to realise these facts and to see that nothing except the existence of capitalism prevents them building up for themselves a decent and secure world. Everywhere the workers are becoming less and less willing to put up with an entirely unnecessary state of semi-starvation. They are showing themselves more and more determined to insist upon their right to food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families. But to get this, capitalism must be overthrown. To get this is only possible by the building up of Socialism, giving peace and prosperity, happiness and new life to the whole working population.
How can the workers end Capitalism? Many workers still believe that all they need can be obtained by Parliamentary action. The Communist Party declares it is not possible to end capitalism and establish socialism in Britain by the election of a majority in the House of Commons. The capitalist class will never allow itself to be gradually expropriated by successive Acts of Parliament. More than twenty years ago leaders of the Tory Party openly organised a rebellion in Ireland rather than submit to an Act of Parliament. Since then, the rise of Fascism throughout the world proves that the capitalists themselves will throw overboard all forms of democracy and resort to every kind of lawless violence to preserve their power and their profits. Without breaking the power of the capitalists it is impossible to get rid of capitalism or to build socialism. It is a question not of votes but of power.
The leaders of the Labour Party declare that the workers must choose between a peaceful gradual way of abolishing capitalism and establishing socialism and the revolutionary way advocated by the Communists. But the workers have no such choice. There is no such “peaceful, gradual” way. The organisation of Fascist storm troops, whose sole purpose is the suppression of the workers’ organisations by violence, is the final proof of this fact. The false character of Labour Party policy is written in Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain; written in the blood of the workers, in the concentration camps, in the appalling suffering, the torture chambers and in the swing of the executioner’s axe. Yet after this unmistakable growth of Fascist violence in one capitalist State after another, the leaders of the Labour Party still urge the working class to rely only upon Parliamentary and “democratic” methods.
They do more than “urge”: they will not tolerate any united action amongst the workers against Fascism and war. These Labour Party leaders, and chiefs of the General Council, who freely speak on the same platform with capitalists, would put a ban on any member of the Labour Party who joins in building a workers’ united front. They have even tried to throttle the rights of trade union branches and to insist that none shall be elected who may have other opinions than themselves. Such a policy, such opinions and such methods will never stop Fascism; on the contrary, they break up the unity of the working class for struggle against the capitalist attacks, and open the gates to Fascism and war.
It is nothing less than a crime to delude the workers with the false hope that the capitalists will quietly lay down their powers and privileges if only sufficient Labour members of Parliament are elected.
This was precisely what the German Labour Party (the Social Democratic Party, as it was called) and the German Trades Union leaders did. They, too, used all their power to prevent the Communists and Social Democratic workers from uniting to fight against Fascism. They, too, rejected the Communist Party’s offer of unity in the struggle against Fascism. They, too, told the German workers that there was no need for militancy or for struggle and that capitalism could be abolished, the terrible conditions of the workers ended, and socialism established by securing parliamentary majorities. It was just this which made possible the success of Fascism in Germany.
But since capitalism cannot be overthrown through Parliament, how then is it that the workers can win power, and construct Socialism in Britain?
How the Workers Can Win Power
The answer is that a workers’ revolution can do it. But that revolution is not a single spontaneous act, coming like a bolt from the blue. It is a continuous process. It begins with victorious struggles of workers uniting to win their elementary demands: the struggle against wage cuts, the struggle against high rents, the struggle against speed-up and wholesale dismissals. The fight against hunger is the fight against the capitalist class. The fight against Fascism and War is the fight against the capitalist class. The struggle for colonial liberation is the fight against the capitalist class.
By every victory in that struggle on a united front against the capitalist class, the workers step by step develop unity, power and organisation. Bit by bit the workers become more and more conscious of what they have to do and how they can do it. Out of their own ranks there develops in the course of struggle a working-class party that can be the vanguard of the fight, that can lead the whole class in its day to day struggles and therefore in the final struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the workers’ rule. This party is the Communist Party.
Not only is this the way by which the workers can and will win: but there is no other way. The choice put by capitalism to the working class to-day is not some imaginary alternative of socialism by parliament, or socialism by revolution, but the grim choice of “starve or rebel.”
For in the end, the workers’ refusal to submit to ever worsening conditions, their fight against quick-coming Fascism and War must either be crushed by the capitalists or must lead to the overthrow of capitalism. Nor has the Communist Party ever denied that this overthrow must be a forceful one; for the capitalists are certain to resist with all their might. It is because of this that the capitalists have accused it of “advocating violence.” But what insolence and fraud is involved in that accusation! The capitalists, who are themselves already employing unceasing violence against the workers in every part of the world, and who are on the point of drowning the human race in the ocean of blood involved in modern war, accuse the Communist Party of “advocating violence”! The revolutionary struggle which the resistance of the capitalists makes inevitable will be but a thousandth part of the growing violence which is already being used by the capitalists. Civil War is forced upon the working class. Moreover, the only effect of the perpetual violence of the capitalists is to destroy human civilisation. But the revolutionary struggle of the workers can, and will, open the way to a new epoch of human progress better than anything the world has yet experienced.
Workers in Uniform
The unity of the working class in struggle makes the capitalists retreat. They give ground. They quarrel amongst themselves. Beaten back in their attack on the working class, they begin to prey on one another. Conflicts arise and the capitalist class as a whole gets into a state of crisis. The authority of the capitalists disappears.
In these conditions the conquest of the power of government by the workers becomes possible. For the army, navy, air-force, are themselves composed of men like the rest of us. They and their families are also feeling the burden of the crisis thrust on them by the capitalists. The men of the armed forces are beginning to see more and more clearly that their only fate under capitalism is to be slaughtered in wars for the benefit of the rich, nor is it true that the men of the armed forces do not feel the need of resistance to attacks on the workers’ standards of life. On the contrary, it was the sailors of the British battle fleet who at Invergordon in the 1931 crisis year gave the rest of the workers the best and most successful example of how workers can prevent their standards of living being reduced.
There is not the slightest doubt that as and when the capitalists are compelled to ask the men of the armed forces to perform more and more hateful tasks of violence both at home and in the colonies, while at the same time imposing worse and worse conditions upon them and their families, the capitalists will find that their soldiers, sailors and airmen are after all only workers in uniform.
But this decisive issue of which side in the struggle is taken by the armed farces, itself depends upon whether the working class as a whole frees itself from the disastrous leadership by which it is being stifled to-day, and adopts a policy of unity and resistance to every capitalist attack. For, at the decisive moment, the action of the workers in uniform will largely depend upon whether they see the workers out of uniform united, organised and ready to take power from the capitalists.
The United Struggle Grows
All over the world the tide of working-class resistance is now rising; the rampart of working-class unity is being built.
In the Soviet Union the power of the capitalists has been broken over one-sixth of the globe. The Chinese Soviets already cover an area with twice the population of Britain. The European capitalists are meeting with ever increasing resistance when they attempt to set up their Fascist tyrannies. The leaders of the Labour and Social-Democratic, Parties are finding it harder and harder to prevent the workers from uniting their forces.
In France, Austria, Italy and Spain, the workers’ united front was actually formed between the Communist and Socialist Parties in 1934.
With us in Britain also the struggle grows. In spite of the efforts of the leaders of the Labour Party, the Trade Unions and the Cooperative Party, to discourage all working-class unity, the British workers are beginning to fight back, both industrially and politically. There are millions of sincere and stalwart working-class fighters in the ranks of the Labour Party and Trade Unions. There are many District and Local officials of the Trade Unions who do not share the views o£ the National leaders, and who do feel the need for working-class unity against worsening economic conditions and against the dangers of Fascism and War.
It is the Workers Who Will Win
Let these men and women be assured that it is only the suppression of the workers’ struggle by their present leaders which is preventing the advance of the British working class. The, workers have the power to overthrow capitalism. It is the capitalists who are powerless, powerless to move a single inch towards the essential reconstruction of society. It is the workers who are strong from the very moment that they unite and resist.
The Communist Party of Great Britain summons the workers of Britain to those tasks of organisation and struggle which are necessary to the overthrow of British capitalism. It does so in the knowledge that there is no other way out for the people of Britain. There are only two alternatives: Fascism, War, and Decay, or Revolution, Peace, and Socialism.
II. Workers’ Dictatorship is Democracy for the Workers
What kind of a Government will the British workers establish when Capitalism has been overthrown? They will not maintain the present parliamentary system.
Does this mean that the workers will abolish democracy? It does not; for the parliamentary system has not brought any real democracy to the overwhelming majority of the British people. What the parliamentary system really is, as any worker may learn from his own experiences, is a form of political organisation which the capitalist class of Britain has worked out to serve its own needs. While Parliament registers formal decisions, it is the whole elaborate machinery of Government, from the Cabinet at the top to the Public Assistance Committees at the bottom, and including the Civil Service, the Military, Naval and Air High Commands, the Judges, the magistrates, and the police, by which the capitalist class manages its affairs and maintains its rule over the working class.
How can this whole machinery, officered by the boss class, be expected faithfully to serve the interests of the working class? How can policemen, drilled in bludgeoning the workers, and kowtowing to the gentry, be expected to act as protectors of the workers’ common property? And the highly-paid upper-class judges? As well ask-how can the leopard change its spots? How can Government officials, bred up to despise “the common herd” and to take their orders from “well-bred gentlemen,” build Government departments whose first care has to be the strengthening of the rule of the “ill-bred,” “badly-educated,” “rough” workmen? How, finally, can the present Parliament be the national leadership of a people engaged in social revolution, where a thousand new problems arise in every little locality, and the power of the new order is to be found, not in a central talking-shop, but in the mass organisations of the workers in every town?
It is quite impossible for the workers to take over this machine and use it for their own entirely different purposes. The workers will have an altogether different job in hand, and they will have to fashion different tools for the doing of it. They will not be content with a body which merely registers formal decisions, but will want a machinery of government which actually carries out the decisions of the workers.
The British workers have built up trade unions. They have built Co-operative Societies. In a century of struggle, the working class, first of all in Britain and then throughout, the rest of the world, have built up forms of organisation for the purpose of fighting for its interests. When the fight for the interests o£ the working class has reached the stage when capitalism is being overthrown, then, in order to do it, and in the doing of it, the British workers will create the organisation necessary for this purpose.
Already in each locality the workers have had the experience of running Trades Councils, composed of delegates from Union Branches, Co-operative Guilds and Branches of Political Parties. But where from time to time Strike Committees have been formed, composed of delgates from each factory on strike, these committees, in times of stress, have proved capable of undertaking something much beyond their first limited purpose. Since the War, on two occasions (in 1920 and in 1926) there have been formed nation-wide Councils of Action, which the capitalists themselves looked upon with fear, and as an alternative form of Government to their own cherished parliamentary system.
In the moment of need that will arise when the workers are getting ready to take over power, the British working class will create its own instruments to hold and maintain its power.
These too will be Workers’ Councils, made up of delegates elected democratically from every factory, workshop and mine, and from every other grouping of the men and women of this country who have to work for their living. These Workers’ Councils are the bodies which will be created by the working class as it takes power into its own hands; and these Workers’ Councils will break up the capitalist machinery of government and take the place of it.
How Will These Councils Work?
As they grow in strength, so will they grow in their capacity to represent truly-not in the mock parliamentary fashion-the needs of those who elect them. Using all their experience of Trade Unions and Co-operative bodies, of shop stewards’ committees and pit committees, the British workers, through their Workers’ Council, will run the affairs of their own localities. And these local Workers’ Councils will choose their best members as delegates to the National Workers’ Council, which will carry on the Government of the country as a whole.
These Workers’ Councils therefore mean in practice for the overwhelming majority of the population democratic rights and privileges to an extent never known under capitalism.
For the essence of the power of the Workers’ Councils will consist in the fact that the sole basis of all State machinery, of all public authority rests on the mass organisations of just those classes who are oppressed by capitalism. Those very masses who though possessing equal rights in law, are in practice kept from all participation in political life and from the enjoyment of democratic rights and liberties will be brought permanently, continuously and effectively into touch with the democratic administration of the Workers’ Councils State.
It is the absence of this genuine participation in the work of administration which makes the present capitalist form of “democracy” so empty and useless from the workers’ point of view. The right to elect members of Parliament has turned out to be of comparatively little use to the workers since all the real control over both the public services and industry have remained in the hands of the capitalists and their paid agents. So long as the employer is the dictator in the factory, so long as the landlord is the dictator in the street, so long as the capitalist class everywhere holds the positions of real power in its hands, there can be no real democracy. It is only after the factories and mines have been taken from the capitalist employers and the conditions of work put under the control of the responsible delegates of the workers themselves; it is only after our houses have been taken from the landlord and put under the control of our own house committees, that a democracy which, has much meaning for the workers can begin.
Nor will this true democracy be confined to the industrial, workers alone. Those substantial sections of the population, such as technical and professional workers, whose interests are to-day being sacrificed by the present dictatorial rule of the great capitalists, will play their part in the Workers’ Councils.
Besides the Workers’ Councils, the workers in a free Socialist Britain will have their Trades Unions and Co-operative Societies — not as they are now, but rid of capitalist influence, strengthened and enlarged. In Britain now less than a quarter of the workers are organised in Trade Unions, but after the Revolution has broken the power of the capitalists, the vast mass of the whole working class will be organised in Trade Unions, the officers of which will be democratically elected from top to bottom, and which will be in a position to take over the whole work of social insurance and look after the interests of their members in a way they cannot do at present. The Co-operative Societies similarly will be enormously expanded, their methods improved, and their membership enabled to play the fullest part in organisation of distribution, especially of the necessaries of life. The Co-operative Commonwealth that has been the aim of generations of working-class co-operators in this country will attain its full meaning and realisation only with the ending of capitalist rule and the establishment of Workers’ Councils. These transformed Trade Unions and Co-operatives will be an essential part of the whole workers’ democracy.
But when the present capitalist dictatorship which operates so harshly against the working class has been overthrown it will be necessary for these democratic Workers’ Councils to exercise a severe dictatorship over the defeated capitalist class.
For the Communist Party would be deluding the workers if it pretended that all need for struggle and for safeguarding the workers’ position would be over as soon as capitalism was overthrown. On the contrary, the capitalist class, which is very strong, very well organised and very determined, will certainly try and get back all that it has lost even after it has been overthrown. Experience has shown that a capitalist class which has had its factories banks, land, railways, shipping, etc., taken from it takes the most desperate measures to destroy the workers’ Government which has succeeded it. The Russian capitalists invited (and still invite) the armies and guns of foreign Powers to be used against their own countrymen. The capitalists will sabotage industry, conspire with foreign capitalists who may still be in power and will not hesitate to betray their country to them. Hence it is essential that the workers establish and maintain their dictatorship over the capitalists so long as there is any remnant of capitalism left in the country. This workers’ dictatorship, however, being “of a special type,” will not suppress the small men, the petty bourgeoisie, or treat them as though they were big capitalists. On the contrary the British working class will act towards the small men as their organiser and guide on the path that leads to a classless Socialist society.
Production for Use
What will this dictatorship of the workers mean in practice? It will mean that the capitalists will be deprived of their ownership and control of the factories and workshops, mills and mines, shipyards and transport. All these means of production which they have used and misused only to pile up profits for themselves and poverty for the workers will be taken from them. The workers’ dictatorship will make an end of production for profit and will carry on production for use. The needs of all will be met, and new needs and pleasures now denied to the working class will be created and satisfied by a socialist organisation and extension of production.
What else will the workers’ dictatorship mean? It will mean that the millionaires who now own the big newspapers will be deprived of their “liberty” to put forward their purses as “public opinion” and to spread lies and dope amongst the masses of the people. On the other hand, the mass of the people will for the first time enjoy “the freedom of the Press,” because they will have at their command the material factors (printing press, telegraph facilities, and all the elaborate plant of modern newspapers) which are at present denied them.
It will mean that the big capitalists will have their monopoly of the best halls and premises taken from them. No Oswald Mosley then will be able to secure with his money (and the help of the police) the Albert Hall, which is at present refused to the workers. But the mass of the people will be able freely to use the best halls for meetings and so enjoy in practice as well as theory “the right of assembly.” It will mean that the big capitalists will be deprived of their monopoly of the best transport and facilities for travel and that workers will no longer be thrust into “workmen’s trains.” It will mean that the monopoly of the best means of education and culture will be taken from the capitalists and handed over to the Trade Unions to administer, together with the Workers’ Councils.
The Communist Party is able to speak with confidence of the type of organisation which the British workers are certain to set up as they overthrow capitalism, because we have before our eyes the great example of what the Russian workers have done in similar circumstances. The Russian workers, too, developed their Councils or Committees in their struggles with the capitalist class. These were the famous Soviets (the Russian word “Soviet” means Council). The Soviets or Councils of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ delegates overthrew Russian capitalism and established the rule of the Russian workers. And it is these Soviets which have ever since governed the country. By means of this system of Soviets or Councils the Russian workers have both secured for themselves the realities of democracy and have maintained their dictatorship over the defeated capitalists. How necessary this dictatorship has been we may judge from the fact that the Russian capitalists have made, and are still making, desperate attempts to recover their position, to overthrow the workers’ rule, and to re-establish their gown capitalist dictatorship.
But the rule of the Russian workers, exercised by this method of Soviets or Councils, has become more and more firmly established, drawing in millions of the population as conscious builders of Socialism. It is now so secure that many former capitalists have genuinely accepted the new state of things and are being transformed into workers. This example shows that in time the workers’ dictatorship over the capitalists becomes an all-inclusive workers’ democracy. For every citizen of the new society becomes a worker, and, because there is then no longer any class division, the need for dictatorship of one class over another disappears.
And then, in still further course of time, when everyone is a worker, the laws and regulations of that all-inclusive workers’ democracy become the habits and customs of the whole people and the need for any State whatever, including “democracy,” begins to disappear.
These Councils or Soviets are the form of Government, the type of political organisation, which the British workers must set up in order to rid themselves of their present conditions under capitalism and organise, as they undoubtedly can, the whole gigantic reductive resources of Britain for their own use. By this means they can not only end their present sufferings and avert the grave dangers which threaten them; they can also establish conditions incomparably better, both materially and culturally, than have ever existed in Britain before.
III. What the British Soviets Will Do
The British Workers’ Councils (Soviets), led by the Communist Party, will provide work and wages. They will give full and decent maintenance to the unemployed, so long as there are any unemployed. But above all they will rapidly abolish unemployment itself. How will they do this?
They will do it by the only way in which it can be done. They will take over, without compensation, the banks, the big factories, the mines, the transport concerns, etc., from their present owners. Then they will set all these industries to work in order to supply the needs of the people. For to-day these industries work only in order to supply the capitalist with rent, interest and profit.
At present, three-quarters of the families in Britain have incomes averaging only 40s. a week. At the other end of the scale 105,000 super-tax payers have an average income of over £100 per week.
The money that goes to the capitalist class is not only made up of rent, interest and profit directly drawn from industry, wrung out of the labour of the workers. There are, for example, rates and taxes, a large part of which are used to pay interest on War Loan and Municipal loans, chiefly held by the rich. Then there are subsidies to the capitalist firms, high salaries to all sorts of officials, from Cabinet Ministers to the men who have been given the jobs of doling out a pittance to the unemployed, to the judges, to the Royal Family, to the Bishops and Archbishops, the Generals and Admirals, and hundreds more. When this vast burden is swept away — but not before — it will be possible to raise wages, shorten hours, end unemployment, raise the school-leaving age, increase the benefits of all Social Services, pensions, etc. clear the slums, develop huge new housing schemes — in a word to reconstruct the entire living conditions of the whole population. Even in 1931, when there was considerable unemployment, an equal distribution of what was produced would have given £5 a week to each family, including the unemployed. (Colin Clark, The National Income, 1924–31.) The resources set free by the elimination of the capitalists as a ruling class would form part of the common social fund for the reconstruction of economic, social and cultural conditions.
We have to-day ample resources for producing all the things we need. Today we are both unemployed and unable to get the things we need. The two things go together. For we are unemployed because the capitalists want to have their profits and will not let us produce what we need. Destitution and unemployment can only be cured simultaneously by taking over and running the industries which we aged to give us all both work and a decent income.
To achieve all this a vast work of reconstruction will have to be undertaken. The British Workers’ Councils will have to bring into use all the unused resources of Britain, to bring all suitable land into cultivation in order to develop food production; to open up new minerals which have not paid under capitalism; to develop enormously the use of electricity, and to increase the efficiency of all producing plants as well as to build new and better factories and transport services in every part of Britain. There will be no more “derelict areas” in this country.
Moreover, the workers will naturally produce far better and more willingly under their own management than they do now. For the first time the British workers will know that greater productivity will no longer be a threat to their livelihood but will make it possible to raise the whole standard of living and shorten the hours of labour.
Nor does this apply only to the manual workers. To-day the technical and professional workers, the scientists and the administrators are beginning to realise that they are working in the interests of a small class within the limitations of a decaying economic system. The inventor cannot fail to see that the chief effect of his inventions is to-day to throw thousands of workers out of work. In the last five years thousands of trained scientists, engineers and technicians have themselves been thrown out of employment. Capitalism cannot make use of them.
All through the last century it was the proud boast of the capitalist class that the discoveries of science were applied to a constant increase of production and that under the rule of the capitalists, science has been stimulated and helped. There was never much truth in it. but now the capitalists dare not make that boast. For visibly and unashamedly they are doing their utmost not to increase but to restrict production. They are trying, not to assist science but to throttle and hinder it, not to endow scientific research, but to cut it down: and this is true in every trade — except the trade of War.
When Sir Josiah Stamp, the leading railway capitalist, said at the British Association for the Advancement of Science that Science was going too fast for economics and that an adjustment must be made, his fellow capitalists knew well enough what meaning to put on his words, that science was too fast for capitalist economics and must be held back. They knew, too, of the thousands of scientists, students and professional men whom capitalism has thrown on the scrap, heap. But those scientists and technicians who have been thrown idle, those students whose pass degree is no longer a pass to employment, are beginning to see that same picture as the capitalists, but they see it from the other side. They see that capitalism is going too slow for science, that it has become a brake and a fetter upon Science and Technique, as it is upon all productive forces. They are beginning to realise that these fetters must be broken in pieces if their livelihood is to be secure and if their science is to be used and developed. Compelled by the logic of fact and experience, they begin to see that the expansion and development of Science is only possible under Socialism. For in a Socialist Society there are no such fetters, no compulsory idleness for men of Science and Technique: On the contrary, Socialism opens out such a prospect of Scientific advance as the world has never seen.
Already in the Soviet Union, where there is a transition to Socialism, the advancement of science by the Workers’ State is such as the world has never seen, and every year scores of thousands enrol themselves in the service of science.
For Socialism is a Society, organised as a whole on a scientific plan, which therefore cannot but stimulate scientific development in every single part of that whole. To-day in Britain Science is treated grudgingly by the capitalists, whose only interest in science is to pick the brains of the scientists. But in a free Socialist Britain science would serve the needs of society’s growth and development.
Again the conditions of work for both manual and professional workers will be greatly altered. For the first time wages, hours, working discipline, and safety regulations will be decided upon by the workers themselves. The leading part in these decisions will be taken by the workers’ own organisations, especially their own trade unions. Moreover, it is only after the overthrow of the capitalist that planning becomes possible. All production, trade and transport, as well as the development of all Social Services, will be organised on a definite plan, in preparing which the workers and their organisations will take part.
This thorough-going reorganisation of our entire economic and social life on a new basis will require the following measures immediately after the British Workers’ Councils have taken power: —
The ownership of the banks and all other financial institutions will be taken out of the hands of their present millionaire owners and be united to form one single State Banking System strictly controlled by the Workers’ Soviet State. Moreover, the whole purpose of banking activities will be altered. To-day the banks are one of the most important instruments by which industry is controlled in the interests of a handful of the biggest capitalists who own both the biggest industrial concerns and the biggest banks. With this end in view the Banks are used to close down industries and factories, to keep up prices, and to extract heavy interest on loans from every form of small industry, trade and agriculture. The present capitalist banking monopoly is a deadly parasite which preps upon the whole British productive system, which ruins not only workers, but small and even medium-sized capitalist producers, traders, shopkeepers and farmers.
When the workers have taken power the Banks will become the machinery of the Central Treasury and accounting system of the Soviet Power. The Soviet Treasury will handle and allot the State resources in such a way as best to meet the ever-growing demand for food, clothing, housing, social amenities, education, and everything which ministers to a rising standard of life and civilisation.
In capitalist Britain to-day there is a continuous waste of productive resources. In many parts of the country, factory after factory is standing idle: and productive plants are working only two or three days a week. For the capitalists, in order to keep up profits, have to scrap these factories, mines and other productive units which, if they poured their products on to the market, would so depress prices as to destroy profits. In Lancashire the capitalists are destroying looms and spindles: on the Clyde and Tyne they are destroying berths for shipbuilding. But the British Workers’ Councils will use to the full all the productive resources of the country. And they will need to build new plants to meet the growing needs of the whole population.
In Mining, for example, there will be no more restriction by quotas, by which to-day each particular mine is only allowed to produce a limited quantity of coal. The British productive system will need all the coal which it can get from the British mines, for industry will be running at full speed. In addition, the domestic demand for gas and electric light, to say nothing of coal for fires, will grow enormously as every worker’s family reaches a comfortable standard of life. Again, there are uses for coal which capitalism is not developing. The production of fuel oil and petrol from coal will not only mean a big new demand for coal, but will also reduce unnecessary imports of oil. Again, a real network of electricity stations will be established, using coal at the pitheads. There is not the slightest doubt that there would be a demand for the coal of every mine which ought to be worked and employment for every available worker.
But the mines will not be worked in the way they are being’ worked to-day. Nothing in the whole terrible story of capitalism is more terrible than the conditions of work which are to-day being imposed upon the British miners. The decline of British Imperialism has nowhere more ghastly effects than in the coalfields. Miners, working long hours for less than a living wage, and speeded-up almost beyond human endurance, see essential safety regulations being neglected for the sake of profits. This is absolutely inevitable so long as the mines are run for private profit. When the miners themselves regulate their conditions of work, a six-hour working day in the pits will be established, the most careful and stringent safety regulations will be enforced, there will be full State compensation for accidents, speeding-up will be abolished, and the mines will be worked in a deliberate, scientific and careful manner.
Iron and Steel
The electrification plans, the plants required for extracting oil from coal, the general use of machinery in agriculture, the development of the fishing fleets, the scrapping of out-of-date ships and the building of new ones, the housing programme, the bringing of piped water supplies to every dwelling both in town and country, the additions and improvements to plants throughout industry to meet the needs of a rapidly rising standard of living-all these demands from the home market will set every section of the iron and steel trades working at full capacity.
The same demand affects the engineering industry, whose raw materials come from the iron and steel trades. And the engineering shops, too, will be working at full capacity.
In addition, an immense export market will develop when colonial countries like India, liberated from the yoke of British Imperialism, are freed from the burden of interest on imperialist loans and the upkeep of British forces. The British engineering industry, under workers’ control, will be able to propose co-operation with the colonial peoples, who will be able at last to build their own economy and develop their own industry and transport. They can get the iron and steel and machinery they require from Britain and other such countries in exchange for the foodstuffs (tea, rice, etc.)and raw materials (cotton, rubber, etc.) which cannot be obtained in such countries as Britain.
There will be no more steel workers unemployed: no longer any engineers signing the vacant book. For the new demand-plus the reduction of hours to seven-will actually require hundreds of thousands of additional workers.
Britain possesses an extensive railway system, but it will only be fully used when the workers have taken power. To cope with the enormous transport needs of a growing industry and agriculture, not only will all important lines have to be electrified and the number of trains increased, but much of the canal system will have to be brought into use again, and new canals built (as for example the Forth and Clyde Canal). Road transport will be needed to supplement the railways and canals in all parts of the country. Air transport will be enormously developed. A prosperous population will mean an immense increase in passenger traffic by rail, road, ships and air.
In all sections of transport the working day will be at once reduced to seven hours, and there will be an end to the present methods of speeding-up.
In the case of such an industry as the textile industry, which in its cotton, artificial silk and wool textile sections supplies direct to the consumer, it is obvious that there will be an immense increase in demand as wages are raised and employment given to all workers. British workers will naturally themselves take an enormously Increased proportion of the products of the textile industry.
But in this case also there will be an enormous increase in the export demanded. The liberation of all parts of the present British Empire from the rule of the British capitalist class will mean not only the withdrawal of all British armed forces and officials, but the end of all interest on loans and of all profits now made by British banks and industrial, trading and transport concerns out of the toil of the workers and peasants of each subject country. With the removal of these burdens, the workers and peasants in each country will have more to spend. Not all the textile mills of Britain and India, working at full capacity, will be able to meet the tremendously increased demand for textile goods. Nor will any surviving capitalist country be able to compete with the greatly increased productivity developed by a planned socialist textile industry.
And the huge numbers of Lancashire workers who have been thrown out of work by the decline of British Imperialism will then be reabsorbed, working a seven-hour day.
Other Manufacturing Industries
It will be the same in all other sections of industry. A prosperous population, in full employment, will require constantly increasing supplies of boots, shoes, clothes, furniture, metal-ware and crockery, wireless sets, sports requisites, cycles, motor-cycles and cars, musical instruments and books. The huge housing programme will mean intense activity not only in the building industry itself, but in all industries producing building materials and equipment for houses. All of this, and particularly the intensive development of agriculture, will bring new activity in the chemicals industry. Every section of industry will soon be working at full capacity, and the difficulty will be not to find employment for workers, but to find enough workers for the output required.
The British Workers’ Councils will at once take over the ownership of all land and will abolish all the rent, tithe, interest and mortgage charges which are at present paid. The occupiers of farms will remain in possession so long as they are working the land efficiently, and the Workers’ Councils will give them every assistance and encouragement in improving their land and methods of work. For example: by the advance of credits and the giving of expert technical help and advice. They will also be encouraged to join together, wherever practicable, in co-operative organisations for the joint purchase and use of machinery, and for the sale of their products. Co-operation on this scale will open a wider prospect of collective production, where all resources will be pooled, and land-workers and farmers over wide areas will join together to build up a scientific agricultural industry of food production on a socialist basis.
The British Workers’ Councils will have a determined policy of placing at the disposal of workers in the countryside the same main facilities as those available to town workers. A substantial increase in the rate of wages of agricultural labourers, improvements in their housing and social amenities, free social insurance, organisation in trade unions, better educational facilities, will all be possible when the life of the village is no longer dominated by the Squire and the Landlord as at present.
Very large farms now run as capitalist business enterprises will, however, be taken over by the Workers’ State, run by the agricultural workers on these former estates, and used as model farms, concentrating on the production of superior goods, thoroughbred stock, etc. All land not used for productive purposes will, of course, be taken over by the Workers’ Councils. There will be no difficulty about finding a market for agricultural produce. The workers will need and will consume far more food than they do at present. Instead of the present restriction schemes by which the production of milk, pigs, potatoes, etc., is curtailed, it will be a question of more milk, more pigs, more potatoes. For the 45 million people of this country will all have to be provided with enough to eat. This does not mean, of course, that the British Workers’ Soviets will grow in Britain all the foodstuffs which can be more cheaply and conveniently purchased abroad. On the contrary, it will import such food, and pay for the imports by its exports of coal, iron and steel, machinery, etc., etc. (Soviet Russia gets what it needs from abroad in precisely this way to-day.)
In so far as the fishing industry is now in the hands of companies, it will be taken over by the Workers’ Councils. Small owners will remain in possession of their ships, and will be assisted in the re-equipment and reconditioning of their ships and in the building of new ships by the advance of credits: through these and other means they will be encouraged to form co-operatives for the sale of their catches. The Transport and Distribution System will be developed; there will be no ships laid up and no fish destroyed in order to maintain high prices and profits for the middlemen. On the contrary, the general prosperity will lead to a great increase in demand: all that is caught will find a purchaser in co-operative or State organisations; and there will be more employment and better conditions in every section of the industry.
There will be a complete reorganisation of the present chaotic conditions in distribution. The manufacturing industries will not have to sell their products through a chain of middle-men before they reach the consumer. The Socialised factories will have joint distributing organisations dealing directly with the shops. In the case of coal, for example, not only will there be an immense saving of transport by the allocation of supplies to definite areas, but within each town or area, there will be a single distributing agency controlling the whole network of depots in the locality. By this means it will be possible to deliver coal to every door in Great Britain at a single uniform cheap price. All overseas trade, exports and imports will be a monopoly of the State, the detailed operations being carried out by specially formed State or Co-operative Organisations. The existing machinery of wholesale distribution with its rings, its monopoly prices and its profiteering will be scrapped. In retail distribution, all multiple shops which are large-scale and monopolist concerns will be taken over. The Co-operative Societies will thus be given every facility for extending their shops and their services, and will rapidly increase their membership all over the country. Co-operative Societies will be the chief channel for distributing the products of socialised industry to the workers, who will take an active part in the development of co-operation. The British Cooperative Movement, which originated from the life-work of Robert Owen, will reach its fulfilment only with the coming of Soviet Power in Britain.
But the greater part of retail trade is still carried on by small shopkeepers, and these small shopkeepers play an essential part in distribution. They will, therefore, be left in possession of their businesses: but will become part of the Socialised and Co-operative machinery of distribution. Indeed, the small shopkeepers who are to-day being squeezed out of existence by the deadly pressure of the great multiple stores will benefit enormously by the Soviet Power. They will benefit by the greatly increased purchasing power of the whole population. They will benefit by being relieved of the mortgages and ground rent which the landlord class now extorts from them, by a substantial reduction in the burden of rates which the land monopoly now necessitates, by the abolition of the present system of middle-men and by the provision of supplies direct from socialised factories and distributing agencies.
With the taking over of the ownership of all land and the biggest buildings by the Workers’ Councils, it will be possible to proceed at once to the clearing of the slums, the use of empty and half used houses for the badly housed workers, and the building of a really adequate number of new houses.
So long as capitalism exists, there is not, despite the ceaseless flow of promises, the slightest hope of the slums being cleared or decent housing conditions being achieved. Indeed in present conditions socalled slum clearance and rehousing is very often a curse instead of a blessing to the workers. Workers are moved from the slums into new houses, but their rents are then increased. Sometimes they are worse off in the new conditions than the old, because higher rents means they have not enough left to spend on food.
Only the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the power of the British Workers’ Councils owning and controlling the entire house property of the country can abolish the slums. A vast new house building and slum clearance programme, which will give work to every single worker in the building industry, and which will indeed necessitate the rapid expansion of that industry, ill be undertaken forthwith. It is in this field that any workers who may not be immediately reabsorbed into other industries will certainly find employment. Indeed the problem will be to extend the building industry and find or train skilled workers at a sufficient rate.
Since there will be no landlords the rent charged by the Workers’ Councils to the tenants of their houses will merely have to cover their necessary upkeep and repair. The tenants themselves, through elected Committees, will decide what repairs and improvements are to be carried out. Workers who are buying their houses will be relieved of all further payments on their mortgages and will remain in possession, like those who have completed the purchase of their houses.
The large country houses of the rich will be used by the Workers’ Councils as holiday rest homes, sanatoria for children and adults, and the like. In those parts of the countryside where the labourers are housed little better than cattle, the villagers will take up their abode in the country mansions until proper houses are built.
The general rise in the level of wages, the shortening of working hours, the speedy abolition of unemployment and the provision at last of decent housing will make possible an immediate and rapid rise in the general standard of health. In addition a State medical service will be organised with free services for the workers instead of the present disgraceful “voluntary” hospital system, in which the workers receive worse and worse treatment. Adequate State-owned and paid for hospital and health services will be organised throughout the country. At the same time the provision of sports grounds, swimming pools, gymnasia, etc., under the control of the workers, will make it easy for workers to keep fit and enjoy their increasing leisure.
A Labour Code
The rights of workers will be safeguarded, not only by the fact that they will elect and be elected to the Workers’ Councils, but a special code of laws. And the provisions of these laws will be enforced by the workers themselves, organised in factory committees and trade unions. Instead of the Factory Acts as at present, insufficient and ill-administered, there will be stringent regulations for the protection of labour; and the Factory Inspectors will be appointed by the workers themselves. Moreover, through the trade union and factory committee, the workers in the factory will have control over their own life and work. The trade union will play its part in the control of production, in the provision of adult education, in the drawing up of collective contracts, as well as doing all the other things which a trade union is expected to do for its members at the present day. A Soviet Britain will not only bring a general seven-hour day, and a minimum fortnight’s holiday with full pay; it will also mean that insurance benefits will be extended and increased, with all contributions paid by the industry. Social Insurance will be free to the workers: and its administration will be in the hands of the workers’ trade unions.
The State Churches, both in Scotland and England, will be immediately disestablished and disendowed. The Workers’ Soviet State will give complete toleration of all religious opinion and of all anti-religious opinion.
A single school system will be set up. The present different types of school, which are based on the different wealth and class position of the parents, will be abolished. Every child will go to the State Schools, and school-leaving age will be immediately raised to 16. Further educational opportunities, viz, entrance to the enlarged technical colleges and universities, will be thrown open to all young people, just as rapidly as the necessary staff, equipment and resources can be provided; and will not depend primarily, as at present, on the wealth of his parents. All children will be taught the elements of some trade or profession. For there will be an ever-increasing demand for more and more highly-skilled technical workers in every industry. Science itself will become more and more closely linked up with the productive process. It will be necessary to expend greater and greater funds on industrial and scientific research and develop a larger and larger percentage of scientists and highly qualified technical workers.
What does this mean to the youth of Britain, who to-day are faced either with hopeless unemployment or herded into big factories, where their youthful energies are exhausted for the profits of the capitalists? Soviet Power means a new life for the youth. Every young worker will be given the fullest opportunity for development. Individual talents will be encouraged. The Soviet Government will immediately decree a maximum 6-hour day for young workers under 18 years of age and prohibit night work and dangerous occupations for all under 18. A system of practical training will operate in which the young workers will spend half the time in the workshop and half the time in the school attached to the factory, receiving an allowance, together with wages for work done.
The encouragement and development of physical culture and sport, together with the change in living conditions under workers’ rule, will result in the youth becoming an army of splendid men and women, fit to be the builders of the future Communist Society. From the age of 18 the youth will have the right to vote and to be elected to any position in the Workers’ Government. The whole system of Soviet Power would enable wide masses of youth to take part in the administration of factory and town, village and country. Then the youth will control their own destiny and build a new life.
For women, Soviet Power means full economic and social equality with men, with equality of opportunity in every trade and profession, in the Soviets, the Trade Unions, the Co-operatives, the whole of social life. For the first time, therefore, women will get equal pay for equal work: they will have ample time off at full pay for confinement, with special allowances and free medical service at all times: if working, they will have crêches, kindergartens and clinics for their children, with the best nursing staff, under supervision of working-class mothers. Adequate school dinners for all children will relieve the working mother of much unnecessary everyday toil, just as the assurance of full and free education up to the university standard will relieve her of the perpetual anxiety as to the future of her children. For housewives, the new houses to be built will contain all the latest appliances that lighten labour.
Planned Production and Distribution
Such an expansion of industry and trade and the social services is only possible on the basis of a scientific plan for the whole economic and social work of the country.
When the Workers’ Councils have taken over all large-scale industry, transport and agriculture, it will be possible to draw up a definite plan of production and distribution. This means that all products will be brought directly to where they are wanted; all factories will be producing for needs that exist — there will be no question of goods remaining unsold. Prices will be fixed in such a way that all goods can be sold; there will be no holding or destruction of stocks in order to raise prices.
But the plan will cover more than the production and distribution of a single year. It will also provide for the reorganisation and extension of industry, in order to raise the conditions of working, living and culture for the whole population.
The Plan will also cover the production of goods, such as engineering products and textiles, which have to be exported in exchange for the food products and raw materials which cannot be obtained in Britain.
Just because of this single plan of production and distribution, including exports and imports,, and also the extension of housing, social services, education, etc., the workers of Britain will know that there will be no waste, and that each year a steady and permanent advance will be made, from which the whole population will benefit.
The question is sometimes asked: Where is the money to come from for this whole programme? The question is based on a misunderstanding. Money is only a means of exchanging things. What matters is the things which are made by human labour. When all are working there will be an increase in the quantity of food, raw materials, manufactured goods, etc. It is these which will be used to raise the standard of living, housing and social services. Money will still be used for a time as a means of exchange, but the more goods are produced the more money will be distributed in wages, so that all consumption goods can be consumed. Buildings, machinery, and other means of production will be made and used, but not bought by or sold to private individuals. When imports have to be “paid for,” payments will be made by exports of things.
The whole plan of production and distribution will be on the basis of. things, and the machinery of money will only exist as a means of distributing these things among the population.
The First Stage
The programme which has been outlined in the preceding pages is the programme which the Workers’ Councils will carry out in the first period after they have taken power. This period will be one of transition towards complete Socialism. There will still be many difficulties and imperfections; the capitalist outlook and class prejudices will exist for a long time. There is no possibility of eliminating all the evils of life in a single year. But the power will be in the hands of the working class, led by its most class-conscious section, organised in the Communist Party; and this power will be used to prevent any return to capitalism, to abolish as rapidly as possible all class privileges and prejudices, to do away with oppression and exploitation and to educate the whole people to a Socialist outlook.
The changed organisation of production and distribution, in which the capitalists as a class will have no place, will be the basis on which Socialist education can change the outlook of the whole population.
But the period of transition will have its difficulties, and it is necessary to show how these will be overcome, and the way in which the taking of power by the British workers will affect the political and social development of the world.
IV. Towards World Socialism
The ending of capitalism in this country will put an end at the same time to the threat of Imperialist wars, to the maintenance of armed forces in preparation for Imperialist war abroad or suppression of the workers at home. The first act of the British Soviet Power will be a declaration of peace with all nations and of the right to complete self-determination, with the right, if they choose, of complete separation for all subject peoples of the former British Empire, and a proposal for immediate, complete and total disarmament. The British Soviets will come before all other nations with clean hands: and they will publish to the world all the secret treaties and agreements of British Imperialism. All the existing armed forces will be disbanded, with full provision of work for the ex-soldiers, ex-sailors, etc. All the firearms held by capitalists will be taken from them, and the workers will be given the arms that are now denied them. Pending the conclusion of international disarmament, a Red Army, Navy, and Air Force will be created, to protect the workers’ victories. At the same time the firm policy of the British Workers’ Soviets will be for the Fraternal Unity of all emancipated peoples, for working-class internationalism.
Such a policy and such measures are the strongest possible guarantee against either Imperialist wars or a resumption of civil wars in Britain. There may be, and probably will be, some desperate last stand of groups of counter-revolutionaries with no possibility of receiving their supplies of food, arms and munitions. With the workers in possession of the factories, the fight of any counter-revolutionary group will not last long: There will be stern revolutionary suppression of any former capitalists who tried to overthrow the Workers’ Councils (Soviets) in order to regain their former possessions and power.
If any former capitalist Government tries to intervene, and seeks to meet the Peace and Disarmament proposals of the British Soviet Power by an armed attack, then it will be confronted at one and the same time by the power of our Red Army, Navy and Air Force and by the determined opposition of its own workers in the factories and its own workers in uniform. In other words, it will face revolution in its own country.
Can Britain Feed Herself?
The belief that a workers’ Britain would be starved out before there was time to reorganise has no foundation in fact. At any time in the year there are stocks of all essential foods — such as flour, meat, potatoes, tea, etc. — sufficient to provide supplies at the present rate of consumption for from four to eight months. In the case of meat, the reserves could be extended in time of emergency by the killing of more stock, to be replaced when the emergency was past. Supplies of fish could be quickly and almost indefinitely enlarged. There can therefore be no question of starvation in the weeks immediately following the taking of power by the workers, and the suggestion of it is a bogey raised by capitalists to make a scare against revolution.
But it is true that, although the output of British agriculture can very quickly be raised, the Workers’ Councils will in the long run have to arrange for the import of large quantities of food stuffs, and also of raw materials. Will this be possible?
Unquestionably it will be possible. The precise method which the British Workers’ Councils will use in obtaining these supplies by means of Foreign Trade will depend, however, upon the general position in the world outside Britain.
Relations with what is now the British Empire
After taking power, the British Workers’ Councils will immediately proclaim the right of all countries now forming part of the British Empire to complete self-determination up to and including complete separation. The British Workers’ Councils will hand over, free of charge, all docks, buildings, railways, factories, plantations, canals, irrigation works, etc., etc., that have been constructed from the sweat and blood of the colonial workers and peasants. The immediate guarantee of this will be the withdrawal of all British armed forces and police, and the cancellation of all the claims of British Imperialist finance.
This will mean the withdrawal of all British forces and administrative personnel from Northern Ireland, the abolition of all claim to taxes, land annuities and any other payments; the dropping of the tariffs and all other measures directed against Irish Trade. The British Workers’ Councils will do their utmost to develop friendly trading relations, to help Ireland to develop her own industry and culture free from all military or economic and financial interference from Britain.
In regard to India, all troops, police and officials will be withdrawn, and the Indian people will be free to set up their own Government, free from any military, economic or financial interference from Britain. The same principles will be applied to the African and other Colonies, Dependencies, Dominions and Mandated Territories in the present British Empire.
Because of the freeing of all parts of the present Empire from the burden of interest on loans, profits taken away by British concerns, and heavy taxation to maintain the British military and civil authorities, it will be possible for the less industrially developed countries to exchange their products for the machinery and other industrial equipment they require in order to build up their own industries. But only in so far as the. British workers repudiate imperialist rule and imperialist ideology now, will the colonial countries be willing to exchange their products for British Soviet goods. Given this outlook on the part of British workers, then, in spite of the deep hostility that Imperialism has generated in the colonies, there will be friendly relations with the British Soviets and fraternal interchange of products, whether in fact these former colonies also set up Soviet Governments at once or not.
Relations with Soviet Countries
The U.S.S.R. and any other Soviet countries which may by then exist will not stand aside from a Soviet Britain. After the Revolution in Russia, Soviet Russia was alone in the midst of an entirely hostile world. Each new Soviet country will find the existence of the U.S.S.R. a tremendous help in overcoming any trading obstacles in the months immediately following the taking of power by the workers. The U.S.S.R. and other Soviet countries will undoubtedly supply a Soviet Britain with her requirements of food and raw materials, in return for British coal, machinery, etc., even if at first the remaining capitalist countries refused to trade.
Relations with other (Capitalist) Countries
But it is not likely that any remaining capitalist countries will be in a position to refuse to trade with a Soviet Britain. Economic reasons alone will compel them to trade. For example, the Argentine would face immediate ruin if it interrupted its trade with Britain in foodstuffs and raw materials in return for British manufactured goods. But there will also be the pressure from their own workers, which would be far more insistent in the case of a Soviet Britain than in the case of Soviet Russia.
The taking of power by the workers in Britain will be an event which will rouse not only the present Colonial peoples but the workers in every country. Every existing capitalist Government will be shaken. Far from there being any possibility of foreign intervention or trade boycott, it is certain that the revolutionary wave will very quickly overwhelm the capitalist system in every other country.
And this will mean the end of armaments, the end of War, the end of competition between rival imperialist groups, the end of subjection of one people by another.
It will mean the beginning of ordered peace and plenty for all the inhabitants of the earth, the beginning of brotherly co-operation between the peoples of the earth, the beginning of a world Socialist Society.
The New Social Order
Not only economic security, not only ever increasing comfort and leisure, not only the day’s labour turned from useless grinding toil into useful work — but a far wider prospect is opened up. For these new material conditions will be but the basis for the most rapid intellectual and cultural development of the whole population. The new generation of children will be born into a new world. The building of a free Socialist Britain will lead the whole human race forward towards a new world. This is the new world of which the Russian workers are already laying down the foundations. This is the new world for which many generations of British workers have struggled. It is for us in our generation to bring this new world into being.
V. The Communist Party
The fight against Fascism and War, and the overthrow of capitalist rule by the working class, as well as the change to Socialism in Britain, depend on the strengthening in Britain of the working-class Party, which sees clearly the alternatives before the workers and carries out a policy which prepares the working class for the taking of power.
Revolution becomes possible when there is a complete breakdown of the authority of the ruling class, when the working class is not prepared to live any longer under intolerable conditions and has a will to overthrow capitalism, and, most important of all, when there exists a revolutionary party of the working class steeled in struggle and capable of leading the workers to victory. Without such a party all the other conditions for revolution may be present, but the capitalists will not be finally overthrown. This is the lesson of all the revolutions in history.
A revolutionary party of the working class cannot be grown overnight. It arises from the class struggle; and it develops with the development of the class struggle. In the struggle against Fascism and War, in the fight against capitalism, that party is now being built. The revolutionary party should embrace the best elements, those whose revolutionary spirit and devotion to the cause of their class have made them a vanguard for the working class in its struggle. But to be a vanguard means not only to struggle, but to know how to struggle, to have an understanding of the laws of development of society and of the laws of revolution.
Therefore, the revolutionary party is based on the work of those who first taught how society develops and changes, on the revolutionary science of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, developed and enriched both in theory and practice by Lenin and Stalin. This enables the Party to be a real vanguard, to foresee the course of the working-class movement and its general results. Thus, it was a revolutionary working-class party which foresaw the danger of Fascism in this country and warned the working class while the Labour Party (with Mosley a member of it) was prophesying that there never would be a Fascist danger in Britain.
The revolutionary party has no interests apart from those of the working class as a whole. Such a party draws on itself the bitter enmity of the capitalists who strive by every means to suppress it, to slander it with their million-fold newspapers and other agencies, to overcome its influence on the workers. Capitalist hatred weeds out any weaklings in the ranks of the revolutionary party. These things alone are a guarantee that the workers’ revolutionary party will not betray the interests of the working class — for it has no other interests.
Such a revolutionary party is an absolute necessity for the victory of the working class. Without it all the complicated situations, the difficulties of the class struggle, the need of new strategy and tactics, of defensive methods and offensive methods cannot be solved. “An army at war,” said Stalin, “cannot do without a General Staff unless it wishes to be beaten. Very much more so the working class cannot do without one unless it wishes to deliver itself, bound hand and foot, to its enemies. But where is this General Staff to be found? Only in the revolutionary party. Without it the working class is an army without a leader.”
In Britain this Party is the Communist Party — the British section of the Communist International, which unites the revolutionary working-class parties in all countries.
The strengthening of the Communist Party is the necessary first step in the fight of the British working class for Socialism. Already the Communist Party has been able, because its policy is identical with the real interests of the working class, to play a leading part in organising the workers to defend their interests in industrial struggles against Fascism and the National Government.
If every worker who believes that the policy and programme stated in this pamphlet is correct, will join the Communist Party and help it in the vitally important work of organising and preparing the working class or Socialism, the effectiveness of its work will be enormously increased, and the fight against capitalism will enter a new stage.
Tremendous events are taking place abroad. The working class of Russia is going from triumph to triumph in the building of a Socialist Society. In China a large Soviet area already exists; in Germany, Austria, Spain and other countries the working class is preparing for the overthrow of capitalism.
The next break through by the workers in any large country will give a tremendous impetus to the growth of the revolutionary working-class movement in every other capitalist country. Britain will not remain untouched; in fact, intervention by the British imperialists is likely to raise the question of immediate mass action by the British workers. To prepare for this situation, to use the short time that still remains before new revolutions and wars shake international capitalism to its foundations, is the urgent duty of every working-class militant and Socialist.
We therefore appeal to every class-conscious worker to join the Communist Party without delay, knowing that by taking this step they are strengthening the only Party that can lead the working class to victory — the Party of Lenin, of Stalin, and of Dimitrov — the International Party of the revolutionary working class.